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    US Senators, Trump Adm. Members Stated Opposition to Nord Stream 2 – IRIS Fellow

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    About 40 US senators wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying they oppose the creation of Nord Stream 2 and urged the official to help prevent its construction. Sputnik discussed the issue with Francis Perrin, Senior Research Fellow at IRIS, The French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, specialist on Energy issues.

    Sputnik: What can you say about this bid by these US senators to block the construction of the Nord Stream 2?

    Francis Perrin: It’s not surprising, of course, because in the US some senators, representatives and then some members of President Trump’s cabinet have stated, I think, very clearly their opposition to the Nord Stream 2 project. And, of course, there is this Act, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA. There are in this act some provisions targeting, I quote Russian energy export pipelines and, of course, Nord Stream 2 is part of Russian energy export pipelines. So, it’s right as this letter states that there are in this US legislation some tools at the disposal of the US president, if he wants to sanction non-US persons involved in this project, and by non-US persons you can, of course, refer to the partners of Gazprom as recently quoted, “Royal Dutch Shell”, “Uniper” of Germany, “Wintershall” of Germany, “ENGIE” of France and “OMV” of Austria. But probably these companies would not be specifically targeted, because in the CAATSA it is said that sanctions could be imposed to companies that make an investment in Russian energy export pipelines after the enactment of CAATSA.

    As far as these five European companies are concerned, the agreement with Gazprom on Nord Stream 2 was concluded before the enactment of CAATSA. So they could technically, legally speaking, escape US sanctions, but CAATSA can also strike providers to these Russian energy export pipelines of goods, materials, services, technology, information or support. And in this case, these companies, of course, would sign contracts after the enactment of CAATSA. So there is effectively a tool for the US, if the US president wants to sanction and to oppose and to try to block Nord Stream 2.

    READ MORE: US Senators Press Treasury to Block Construction of Nord Stream 2

    Sputnik: What kind of impact could this proposed block have on European partners and, of course, on US allies, if we talk about European Union countries?

    Francis Perrin: Russia is presently the main gas supplier to the European Union. Gazprom has a market share of about 35%, so it’s not a monopoly, technically speaking; it’s a leading gas supplier to Europe. Of course, Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline, a gasline which will allow Russia and Gazprom to export more gas to Germany – 55 billion cubic meters per year, as stated in your subject. Germany is in favor of Nord Stream 2, but there is a precondition – if this project is to be approved by the German authorities, Russia must go on supplying gas to Europe through Ukraine after 2019. And so, it’s a very important political condition.

    As far as other European players are concerned, there are, of course, some opponents to these countries among the 28 countries, especially Poland and the Baltic countries. The European Commission has said that it would not directly oppose Nord Stream 2, but that it would not support this project because it’s a project which would increase Russian deliveries of gas and it’s not a real diversification of European gas supplies. So, we have different positions of the main political players within the European Union. Some are for, some are against and some are saying, as the European Commission, “we are not against and we are not for.”

    Sputnik: How do you see this affecting really, I mean, there’s a move toward diversification away from Russian gas and energy sources and there’s also a very strong movement throughout Europe toward sustainable green energy. How do you see the future of Russian gas supplies to the European Union?

    READ MORE: 'Americans Have Vested Interest in Blocking Nord Stream 2' — Analyst

    Francis Perrin: This question refers to the role of gas in the future, in energy mix of the European Union. So far, the European Union has not taken a definitive stand about the share of gas. It would have to see its energy mix in the future. Presently, in the European Union natural gas suffers from the competition of very cheap coal, including coming from the US, and renewables, especially solar energy and wind energy, which are very heavily supported by European governments and the European Union through different subsidies. So, there’s a real debate within Europe about the good share, the optimal share of gas in our future energy mix. I personally think that this share should be increased and that gas should be favored, because it’s a very interesting source. There is a lot of gas in the world. We talked, of course, about Russian gas but you have as important new suppliers, such as Norway, such as Algeria, such as Qatar. You have energy coming from the US, not only the US but, not only in Europe, but also in this part of the world. You have new countries which are emerging as gas producers and exporters, the eastern Mediterranean, with Israel and the Republic of Cyprus. You have new African countries which will become gas producers and exporters, so there is a lot of gas on the world market

    The views and opinions expressed by Francis Perrin are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

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